A TEACHING CELEBRATION
Wallace Stevens and Mere Things
1. :There is a man whose work makes most of us quail. His technical subtleties alone provide a great amount of interest" Hart Crane,1919, Collected Letters , Univ.of Calif..Press Berkeley 1965
2. "How do we perceive reality in a universe in which God cannot be assumed to be pantheistically present ? In a sense [Wallace] is the poet as philosopher, and his poems consistently deal with the way in which things outside the self resist meaningful definition, and how poetry and imagination - the supreme fiction - are primary and truthful instruments of comprehension - are in fact the highest way of knowing." Malcolm Bradbury The Penguin Companion to Literature , Penguin Harmondsworth 1971.
3. " Marian Moore, William Carlos Williams and Stevens were all preoccupied with the question of what poetry could do, or might do, by way of elevating mere `things' to the level of imaginative reality." F.J.Hoffman, The 20's , Collier Macmillan London 1965.
(1879 -1955) is writing he says, "The
poem of the mind in the act of finding/ What will suffice. It has
not always had/ To find : the scene was set ; it repeated what /
What as in the script./ Then the theatre was changed/ To something
else. Its past was a souvenir."
Take from the dresser of deal,
Points to be raised.
Other Stevens poems you might read eventually,
"There are no conditions (and this is the point central to his aesthetics) in which the perfect relationship between the poet and his reality is fully attainable, because of the mutability of the world, and of the imagination. What he can propose is that there is an idea of order, a contained set of conditions within which the modern poet can work." Bradbury, as above.